Increased litigation exposure a growing threat to Canada’s food products industry

Deborah Glendinning

August 6, 2014

Osler’s Food Products Group reveals five of the most frequent triggers for litigation in respect of food, beverage and health products and offers suggestions to minimize legal risk

The food and beverage industry has long been a target for health and safety-related litigation, with U.S companies bearing the brunt of the legal action to date. As this type of litigation creeps into Canada, it is important that food product manufacturers and distributors north of the border understand the drivers of this trend towards increased exposure and are equipped with the most effective strategies to manage the risk.

To help companies navigate this complex landscape, the Food Products Group at law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP has released a white paper entitled “Food Product Liability in Canada: Five drivers of litigation and steps to minimize risk.”

The paper focuses on five aspects of the manufacturing and marketing process that trigger litigation throughout the food products industry:

  • Product recalls
  • Perceived failures to warn about a product’s harmful effects
  • Representations about a product’s ingredients
  • Claims about a product’s positive effects on health
  • Third-party certifications

“Despite Canada’s unique regulatory environment that imposes strict standards for many aspects of the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of food-related products, we can still learn a lot from observing trends in this type of litigation in the United States,” said Deborah Glendinning, Partner, Chair of Osler’s National Litigation Group and member of its Food Products Group. “If companies understand the key issues driving litigation today, they can better evaluate the potential exposure for their own products.”

Citing examples from cases in Canada and the United States, “Food Product Liability in Canada” also offers insight into the risk minimization strategies businesses can deploy to address product liability risks – from supply chain controls through to product recall best practices.

To read the full white paper, visit

For more information on Osler’s Food Products Group, visit:

About Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Osler’s cross-disciplinary Food Products team advises clients in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and natural health product sectors to identify and mitigate potential risks and, when necessary, defend against claims. Osler is recognized for its depth and breadth of practice in business law. We are dedicated to providing innovative, solution-oriented advice in a practical and cost-effective manner. We believe that our success is a reflection of our clients’ success. We serve our clients through offices in Toronto, Calgary, Montréal, Ottawa and New York.

For further information, please contact:

Jodi Kovitz
Director, Client & Business Development
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP